A bicycle is a convenient and affordable means of transportation, but not all riding environments are friendly to cyclists. Riding your bike along a quiet country road may be calm and relaxing, but in the city, things are much more chaotic. Navigating the concrete jungle on two wheels will test your survival skills. Make sure you’ve got the good sense to stay alert and keep out harm’s way. Be ready with a plan.
Be Clearly Visible
A cyclist is much smaller than an automobile, and riders have a tendency to blend in with the background. Drivers are not really aiming for you, but they are less likely to see you in time to avoid a collision. High visibility garments and reflectors improve the odds that you will be spotted. At night, it is even more critical to wear brightly colored clothing and to have a lighting system on your bike.
Improve Your Awareness
Don’t depend on others to see you. Get in the habit of checking your surroundings constantly. Anticipate when someone is about to cut you off or stop in front of you. Your ability to detect sudden movements out of the corner of your eye helps you evade potential dangers. Make sure your helmet and glasses do not obstruct your peripheral vision. Add a rear view mirror to your bike, and spot dangers that creep up from behind.
Drivers are more likely to respect you if they know what to expect from you. Use an assertive posture to communicate your intentions. In some places, the lanes for cyclists are not clearly marked, but you still need a physical space to ride in. Hold your lane through tight areas, and avoid weaving on and off of the sidewalks. Be cautious at all times, but do not shy away from entering an intersection when you have the right of away. Clearly signal your intentions, and take charge in the flow of traffic.
Even though you must be able to stand up for yourself in the face of much larger vehicles, you should still be prepared to duck out of the way in an emergency. Collisions with cars and trucks can be life threatening. Always scan the traffic ahead, and keep your eyes open for an emergency escape route should you suddenly run out of space.
Develop Consistent Habits
When cycling to work, familiar routines are your best friend. Find a daily route that you can learn thoroughly. Knowing the terrain helps reduce the likelihood of running into unexpected trouble. Be familiar with potholes and create strategies for troublesome intersections. Taking a new route from time to time may be exciting, but it also opens you up to the risk of an accident.
Avoiding the dangers of the city keeps you active and moving, but sometimes accidents still happen. If you have been involved in a collision and suffered an injury, do not avoid seeking the medical attention you need. Get legal assistance if you need to evaluate your options should the worst have happened to you.